Francesco is really good at connecting with people, motivating teams, and he proved to be a great leader during our MEng projects.Here, we asked Francesco some questions about their Berkeley MEng experience.
What does it mean to you to receive this award?“It feels very rewarding to be recognized by your peers for having contributed to their experience in the MEng program. The time we spent at Berkeley is such a short one and I’m very happy to have been able to leave a trace in people’s memory of their time at Berkeley. At the same time, many folks contributed to making my experience special, and I need to thank them for that.
What are your post-graduation plans?I’m planning on staying in the Bay Area for a while. I’m currently in the late stages of the interview process with a couple of companies. Unfortunately, the current economic situation doesn’t make things easy for job seekers. For a while, I considered committing full-time to a startup idea I began developing with some friends during the fall semester, but I realized I first want to get some industry experience in the Bay before undertaking any other future project.
What is your favorite Berkeley memory?I have a lot of good memories, but if I were to give one, I would choose the first day of bootcamp back in August. Everything was so new to me, the way classes were taught, the beauty of the library, the campanile, people speaking English with accents from all over the world. It was also the time where we didn’t know the other people in the program, and we were all so eager to meet and get to know each other. I really felt that amazement typical of kids when they discover something new.
What was your favorite class at Berkeley?I’m going to give two, which best represent the reasons that brought me to Berkeley. The first one is Applications in Data Analysis taught by Paul Grigas, which gave me the technical background I was looking for in Machine Learning and taught me some of the best practices in the Data Science lifecycle. The second one is a new MBA class run by Adair Morse and Julia Sze, which taught me math and reasoning of VC funds. In addition to that, it gave me the opportunity to become a Partner of the Haas Impact Fund, a venture fund focused on investing in highly impactful startups.
What was it like living in Berkeley during your time in the program?I strongly recommend living at the International House. In addition to having the best food on campus, it’s a great place to quickly meet new people and make friends from all over the world. Awesome views of the Bay are included.
What is your advice to future MEng students?Your time in Berkeley will fly; make sure that at the end of it you’ll look back with no regrets for not doing something. It will be very easy to say no to activities with friends, hackathons, or student associations when you’ll be laying on your bed watching Netflix, but which of the two things will you remember 5–10 years from now? Berkeley is such a vibrant campus, you can feel the energy when walking through it. Assuming that the coronavirus situation will get better, take advantage of all the opportunities it offers, you’ll never know how things may turn out (I bet none of us was predicting a global pandemic). Even if future classes and meetings may still need to be remote, Berkeley people will come up with things like a fully-built Minecraft campus. You really get what you put in, be sure to put in as much as you can.” Connect with Francesco Piccoli or view his personal website.
Francesco Piccoli wins 2020 Intellectual Leadership Contribution Award was originally published in Berkeley Master of Engineering on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.